Community Engagement and Research
The University of Florida Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s Community Engagement and Research Program provides consultation to faculty, students, affiliated health care partners and community organizations on designing and conducting health-focused studies and outreach in community settings. The goal of the program is to promote collaborative relationships between community members, academics and healthcare providers to address the health and well-being of communities in Northeast Florida and beyond.
A Community Advisory Board advises the program and the CTSI on specific research projects and translational research goals, with meetings rotating between Gainesville and Jacksonville. The program collaborates with more than 30 community partners across Northeast Florida. In Jacksonville, the program’s community research associate serves as a liaison for community organizations as well as UF Health Jacksonville programs including the UF Center for AIDS/HIV Research, Education & Service, the UF Center for Health Equity & Quality Research, and the Jacksonville Health Equity Research Organization. The program also develops and offers training for community health workers, students and volunteers to develop a cadre of professionals committed to building trust with the community and engaging stakeholders in all phases of translational research.
Read on to learn about some of the program’s resources and ongoing research, including:
HealthStreet: Research Helping People
HealthStreet is a community engagement program whose mission is to reduce disparities in health research and access to care. Led by Dr. Linda B. Cottler, HealthStreet improves relationships between community members, health care providers, community organizations and researchers through assessment of medical problems and health concerns in the community; bidirectional, health-promoting education and communication; referrals to services and research; and meaningful collaborations that increase the community’s trust in the research enterprise. HealthStreet uses a Community Health Worker model to assess the health concerns and conditions of people in the community and refer people to relevant medical and social services, and opportunities to participate in health research. HealthStreet helps researchers learn from and improve the health of diverse and underrepresented populations in Northeast Florida.
As of May 2015, UF HealthStreet has reached 7,868 people and connected 2,969 people to health research opportunities. HealthStreet has provided more than 11,000 referrals and 13,000 services to Northeast Florida residents, including health screenings, social services and referrals to community agencies. In addition, HealthStreet is the model used by six CTSAs to develop the Sentinel Network for Community-based Participatory Research: Community Needs, Concerns, and Perceptions About Health Research: Findings From the Clinical and Translational Science Award Sentinel Network.
Our Community, Our Health
Our Community, Our Health is a quarterly public forum that brings together researchers and the community to discuss health research. Based on a concept begun at Washington University in 2009 and launched at UF by HealthStreet and the UF CTSI in 2014, Our Community, Our Health seeks to foster an ongoing conversation among those who conduct research, those who participate in research and other stakeholders. Each event features brief presentations by UF researchers who have conducted recent studies on health-related topics. Community members are invited to discuss the studies and future research with the presenters, encouraging a mutual understanding of health research and its impact. HealthStreet is collaborating with multiple partners – including the UF CTSI Communication and Dissemination Program – and other CTSA hubs to develop a strategy for expanding and evaluating Our Community, Our Health as a national engagement and dissemination activity.
Science of Community Engagement
The UF CTSI’s Community Engagement and Research Program is committed to advancing the science of community engagement in collaboration with other CTSA hubs across the country. UF faculty and staff have presented dozens of poster presentations and several plenary presentations over the course of six NIH-funded community engagement conferences organized by Duke University, with the most recent one entitled 2014 National Conference on Engaging Patients, Families and Communities in all Phases of Translational Research to Improve Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The program’s recent areas of interest include utilizing spatial statistics to identify cancer hot spots; and text messaging and social media as an interactive platform to recruit community participants for health research. The program also is involved in two multi-CTSA research collaborations: the Sentinel Network for Community-based Participatory Research, and the Trust Project.